Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking back one last time before looking forward...

Looking Back...I tried to institute some new Christmas traditions this year that I hope will stick. Here are the keepers for next year:

- Go to 7pm mass instead of our usual 4:30. Much less crowded and the timing is better. We got home around 8:30 just in time to put out cookies for Santa and tuck a fairly tired little one into bed.

- Dinner on Christmas Eve was fondue. I made it for the first time ever and it was really fun. I made a traditional Swiss fondue and served it with cubes of pumpernickel bread (next time I would toast these, they were a little crumbly in the fondue), lightly steamed broccoli & cauliflower, sliced granny smith apples and chicken sausage sliced into rounds. YUMMY! Button mushrooms might be a good addition too.

- Christmas morning was the usual open stockings, eat a big breakfast, then open presents routine. No need to mess with that, it always works well.

Overall I would say we had a really good Christmas. We stayed in budget or under budget, which is good because our budget is being sucked dry in other areas right now. Joe seemed really happy with the gifts I got him (a new LL Bean henley, sleeping bag, and dri-fit work out shirt). I got some sparkly things and some techy (Apple) things, along with a new veggies slicer/cheese shredder that hooks onto my Kitchen Aid mixer. The man knows me too well!

New Year's Eve Joe was working 2nd shift at the hospital so it was just Little One and I at home and we basically treated it as any other ordinary evening. On New Year's Day I did make a big pancake breakfast but it was a pretty low key holiday.

Looking Forward: 2012 is full of possibility and potential.

- Joe will finish his BSN and hopefully be gainfully employed full-time for the first time in 4 years. We'll be back to double income, thank GOD!

- 1 or both of our vehicles will be replaced (Joe's truck has to be replaced soon, or we'll have to spend 2K on repairs that just aren't worth it on an 11 year old vehicle).

- My job is likely to change within the next month. Same company, just waiting for the new VP of our dept (my boss) to announce what her restructuring of our dept will look like and what my new job responsibilities will be.

- Baby #2 is back on the table. Joe and I have been talking. It's 2012 or never.

So here's to looking forward only from here on out... 2011 treated us well, but I am very much looking forward to what 2012 brings. I have a habit of writing my Christmas Card letter for the following year as an exercise during the first week of the new year. It becomes a wish list of what I hope I'll be able to say has happened in our family during the year. It feels a little less formulaic than writing a list of goals but it makes it easy for me to visualize the big goals I'm shooting for during the next 12 months. I don't share it with anyone, I just tuck it away as a reminder to myself and it's interesting to read at the end of the year and see how well it matches up with what has really happened in my life. If it doesn't make it into my "fake" Christmas card letter it's probably not all that important.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is it vacation yet?

So much has happened in the last week. I think I'm going to list it all in a bulleted form or I'll start rambling and never document it all. Because I'm a fast typist my fingers can actually keep up with my thoughts this way, unlike in a pen & paper journal:

- last Wednesday Joe's Dad finally had an experimental heart valve replacement surgery at Mass General. He spent the last year meeting with the 4 teams that are part of the clinical trial at various hospitals and finding one that was willing to take him on as a patient. The he had to work with his insurance to get the survery covered and then finally travel to Boston to have all the pre-op testing that determined he was strong enough to undergo the surgery. Surgery was a success, he was moved out of the ICU last Friday and has been off oxygen since the surgery. Amazing. He has been on supplemental O2 24 hours a day for over a year now. So excited that things are progressing so well for him after such a long wait.

- Joe got confirmation that he got an A in the last class he was waiting to hear results on, which means he pulled a 4.0 during his toughest semester in 4 years. That also pulls his GPA up high enough that unless something horrible happens during his final class this spring he will graduate with honors "Cum Laude".

- Joe's mom finished up chemo treatment for Stage -4 Lymphoma with good results. The tumor they had been watching shrunk from 9cm to 5cm with 6 courses of chemo but she did not tolerate the chemo well at all. After every treatment she spent 3-4 days in the ICU. So her dr. is changing her treatment plan and is switching from chemo to radiation after the first of the year. Hopefully the more targeted approach will be better for her overall health.

- Joe's shoulder separation injury is improving each week, he's been able to go 24 hours without pain meds when he's not working which is great. He has good range of motion but still can't lift heavy things or bear much weight on it.

- On the home front, I finally got the tree up and decorated and all the other Christmas decorations are up. All the Christmas gifts are purchased and Santa's elves (aka FED-EX, UPS and the mail man) should be making the final deliveries this week. Christmas cards are out the door!

- Joe's truck is on it's last leg and is requiring a $2500 repair. The truck BADLY needs to be replaced. There is no point in my mind in sinking $2500 into an 11 year old truck, time to replace that baby but not until we have another paycheck rolling in. We're going to try to nurse it along until spring if possible.

- Little One has today and tomorrow in school and then is off for 2 weeks. yay!

- Just this morning I signed off on the final round of proofs for all of my projects at work that had to go to the printer before Christmas.

That's plenty for now. Hoping to relax over the holiday with my little family and take a breather!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yay for Christmas Break!

Not for me or little one yet, but for Joe. He took his last exam of the semester this morning. Then he and I met for a fancy lunch downtown to celebrate. We both knew going into it that this was going to be one of the most challenging semester's of the last 4 years. Upping to 18 credit hours from his usual 12-15 at most, plus working. And it's not like a normal college student taking 18 credit hours when you only have yourself to take care of. Being a Dad and a husband on top of everyything, we knew that a lot of the normal responsibilities around the house and Little One would end up resting on my shoulders. But we made it. We survived the semester from H.E. double hockey sticks. He has 2 A's and is just waiting for the grade in his final class, but he feels pretty confident that should be an A as well.

So yay for Christmas break. Joe is still working 2 shifts a week, and already has studying he has to get done in preparation for his next clinical rotation in Acute Care but it still feels like a break for both of us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nuts Nuts Nuts

So, after a long delay a brief recap of Little One's Medical Emergency.

My Mom and Dad brought some gourmet candies from New York as a special treat. We opened them on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for dessert. The candies are made be a tiny independent candy shop in the town where I grew up and are super simple, just chocolate, sugar and Brazil Nuts. Within seconds of Little One eating a bite she looked pale and shocked and was complaining that her mouth felt REALLY funny, it was tingling and burning and she didn't feel right. Her face was incredibly swollen on one side within minutes, within 15 minutes her whole face was swollen, her tongue was double it's normal size and she was broken out in a rash. Within a half hour she was complaining she could feel her throat touching and we starting seriously considering going to the ER. We were taking the situation minute by minute. Brother-In-Law (who is a general practitioner MD) had his Dr's bag out and was checking her breathing and pulse every few minutes. We spent the next 2 hours watching her intently. If my Brother-in-law had not been there we would have headed to the ER with her for sure.

We gave her Zyrtec within minutes of her swelling up (allergy meds I have on hand because I have a food allergy myself). We gave her ice water to sip which helps me when my throat starts to swell. And just watched and waited and hoped the meds would kick in soon to counter-act the allergen. My Brother-in-law said the normal course of action would be to give Benadryl but he was concerned with the sleepiness it causes, especially with her airway tightening. He wanted to keep her alert.

It was so strange, nearly an hour and half after the initial reaction just all of sudden she said "Mommy, I took a deep breath and it didn't hurt, I can swallow again." and from there it seemed to subside. Deep sigh of relief from all involved.

She broke out in huge hives on her hips and groin area later that night, and the next day her whole trunk from neck to knees was covered in tiny red pin point hives. I did give her Benadryl then since her airway wasn't a concern and I was ok letting her nap through the day without worrying about her being able to breathe.

A trip to the Pediatrician that afternoon and he confirmed what we all thought, a tree nut allergy, specifically the Brazil nut.

Sooo, last week I spent picking up prescriptions for Epi-Pens (adrenaline shots) and delivering them to school/her teacher/the afterschool program staff and filling out what felt like a bazillion forms to have her classroom labeled as "nut free". It was an emotional week. Little One was overwhelmed with all the concern and had a couple of breakdowns at school. I love the staff there, they are so good with her, and I think they handled a tough week really well. Her teacher sent her to have a chat with the guidance counselor after a particularly tough day which really seemed to help her to talk through her concerns.

We take her to an allergist in January for further testing, and we're hoping they'll be able to say it's strictly the Brazil nut that she's allergic too, and not all tree nuts. But that might not be the case. Her pediatrician says that often one tree nut will start the allergen and then you are allergic to all tree nuts, even if you've been able to eat them in the past. So that's almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts... basically every nut except a peanut.

This week I finally feel like we're on the other side of all the drama. Plans are in place with school and after-school programs and Little One has I think started to come to terms with the allergy and not be so scared. For now.

Joe is recovering from his separated shoulder. He's still on pain meds and not able to use it as much but he is seeing a little bit of improvement and is starting some physical therapy exercises that will hopefully increase his mobility. He's on medical leave from work until this Friday. So a little silver lining was that we actually got to spend time together as a family this weekend when he would normally be working.

The fun never ends at our house!